In the spotlight of the sports world tonight, the NHL returns with the commencement of the 2023 NHL Draft. Similar to the recent NBA Draft, there is an indisputable top prospect who will go No. 1. The Chicago Blackhawks have set their sights on selecting Connor Bedard, a 17-year-old hockey prodigy, with hopes of reviving their historic franchise after years of struggle.
Bedard’s impressive track record suggests he possesses the ability to accomplish just that. Austin Nivison compared Bedard’s credentials with those of recent top draft picks, and even the winner of the 2023 Hart Trophy pales in comparison:
Nivison: “Connor McDavid epitomized a generational talent. He possessed the size, speed, production, and intangibles necessary to excel in the NHL, and he certainly delivered. The fact that Bedard’s statistics and accolades rival McDavid’s only amplifies his allure to NHL scouts… There’s no denying that Bedard’s pre-draft resume places him in a league of his own.”
To support Bedard’s arrival, the Blackhawks have also made significant moves before the draft by acquiring Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno through a trade with the Bruins. But that’s not all the pre-draft action:
- Tyler Toffoli is heading from the Flames to the Devils.
- The Kings have secured Pierre-Luc Dubois from the Jets.
- The Avalanche traded Alex Newhook to the Canadiens.
- Kevin Hayes is making his way from the Flyers to the Blues.
The draft is set to commence tonight at 7 p.m.
Other Noteworthy Mentions:
- Dolphins-Chiefs tickets in Germany sold out within 15 minutes.
- Leonard Fournette miraculously escaped injury after his car caught fire.
- Julio Urías is expected to make his return this weekend.
- The 2023-24 NHL schedule has been released.
Less Favorable Mentions:
- If the Mets’ situation worsens, Max Scherzer may consider waiving his no-trade clause for the “right situation.”
- Josh Jacobs might miss the start of training camp if he doesn’t secure a new deal.
- Shakira Austin’s hip injury poses a significant setback for the Mystics.
- Ryan Mallett, former Arkansas and NFL quarterback, passes away at the age of 35.
Incredible Rise of Giannis Antetokounmpo: An Oral History
Ten years and one day ago, the Cavaliers made an unexpected choice by selecting Anthony Bennett as the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. It turned out to be a disappointing decision as Bennett exited the league by 2017. In a draft filled with uncertainty, the subsequent picks were also hit-or-miss.
At the 15th spot, the Bucks chose a relatively unknown, long-limbed teenager from Greece named Giannis Antetokounmpo. The rest is history in the making—a decorated decade that includes two MVP awards, an NBA championship, and much more. To commemorate Giannis’ journey, Jack Maloney has compiled a captivating oral history of his rise to stardom. Here’s a snippet:
Jrue Holiday: “He got injured during the  conference finals against Atlanta, and during his first practice back—the day before the Finals game—we witnessed him going full throttle, like 150 miles per hour. We had to tell him, ‘Slow down, man. We just got you back, and we need you to play tomorrow.'”
This engaging piece features quotes from Antetokounmpo himself, his teammates, coaches, as well as opponents like LeBron James and Draymond Green. It’s definitely worth a read.
MLB Draft: Pittsburgh Pirates’ No. 1 Selection
With the conclusion of the college baseball season and the MLB Draft approaching, the Pittsburgh Pirates hold the coveted first pick. This presents a significant opportunity for a team that has shown promise but still requires substantial help.
Fortunately, R.J. Anderson presents five potential options for the Pirates, with three of them being participants in the College World Series Finals: LSU pitcher Paul Skenes, LSU outfielder Dylan Crew, and Florida outfielder Wyatt Langford. These names may already ring a bell as they have been mentioned in previous editions of this newsletter. Additionally, two high school prospects who could come into play are Walker Jenkins, an outfielder from South Brunswick HS (NC), and Max Clark, a center fielder from Franklin Community HS (IN). Jenkins is favored by the industry due to his well-projected offensive skills, while Clark draws comparisons to Cubs prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong and boasts significant offensive potential along with exceptional speed.
While R.J. provides full scouting reports for the top 30 prospects, it’s important to remember that the team’s approach matters just as much as the player selection. According to Anderson, the Pirates have two potential strategies: choosing the best player available, which would likely be Crews if aligned with industry evaluations, or adopting a portfolio approach popularized by the Houston Astros and Baltimore Orioles. The latter involves selecting the most cost-effective player among the top tier and reallocating savings to players who may have slipped due to signability concerns.
To explore R.J.’s complete analysis, click here, and for Mike Axisa’s latest mock draft, click here.
Top 25 NFL Players Under 25: Offensive Standouts Dominate
Oh, to be young and at the pinnacle of one’s sport! Cody Benjamin has ranked the 25 best NFL players who are 25 or younger, and the list is brimming with stars, evoking excitement about both the present and future of the league (although it does remind me that, at 26, I’m older than everyone on this list for the first time ever, but let’s not dwell on that).
Taking the top spot among these young talents, and without much debate, is Justin Jefferson:
Benjamin: “1. Justin Jefferson — Jefferson has had the most remarkable start by any receiver in NFL history, effortlessly increasing his annual yardage totals from 1,400 to 1,616 to 1,809. While not invincible, he has come close, outmaneuvering nearly every secondary he has faced with his seamless, speedy route-running and an ability to make clutch big plays.”
Jefferson already ranked fifth on last year’s list, solidifying his status as a superstar. However, this year’s second-ranked player did not make the cut previously:
Benjamin: “2. Jalen Hurts — Over the course of three seasons, Hurts has progressed from a scrambler to a serviceable quarterback, and now to a bona fide star under center. In truth, he has exhibited improvement every year since his college days. Known for his unyielding resolve and work ethic, Hurts has demonstrated significantly enhanced downfield touch and accuracy, which propelled the Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance.”
Hurts’ remarkable improvement prompts speculation about which player might make a similar leap from beyond the top 25 this year to a high rank next year. Christian Watson emerges as a prime candidate. From Weeks 10-18 last season, only three wide receivers—Davante Adams, Jerry Jeudy, and Jefferson—achieved a higher yards per target. With his potential to create big plays, Watson ignites high expectations.
To view Cody’s complete list, click here.
What to Watch on Wednesday _xD83D__xDCFA_
_xD83C__xDFC0_ Sparks at Sky, airing at noon on NBA TV.
_xD83C__xDFD2_ NHL Draft, beginning at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
⚽ St. Kitts and Nevis vs. USMNT, kicking off at 9:30 p.m. on FS1.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Sports articles
Q: What is the focus of the article?
A: The article focuses on Connor Bedard’s potential to revive the Chicago Blackhawks and explores Giannis Antetokounmpo’s remarkable journey in sports.
Q: Who is Connor Bedard and why is he important for the Chicago Blackhawks?
A: Connor Bedard is a 17-year-old hockey star who is highly regarded as a generational prospect. The Chicago Blackhawks hope that Bedard’s exceptional skills and accomplishments can help lift their franchise out of years of struggle.
Q: What comparisons have been made between Connor Bedard and other top draft picks?
A: Bedard’s credentials have been compared to those of other top draft picks, including Connor McDavid. His statistics and accolades place him in rare air, making him an enticing prospect for NHL scouts.
Q: What notable pre-draft movements have occurred?
A: Prior to the draft, the Blackhawks made significant moves by acquiring Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno through a trade with the Bruins. Additionally, there have been various player trades involving teams like the Flames, Devils, Kings, Jets, Avalanche, Canadiens, Flyers, and Blues.
Q: What is the oral history of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rise?
A: The article presents an oral history of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s journey from being a little-known prospect drafted by the Bucks to becoming a decorated NBA superstar. It includes quotes from Antetokounmpo, his teammates, coaches, and opponents, providing insights into his remarkable rise to stardom.
Q: Who are some of the notable players mentioned in the NFL’s top 25 players under 25?
A: The list includes standout NFL players who are 25 years old or younger, with Justin Jefferson topping the rankings for his exceptional performance as a wide receiver. Jalen Hurts is another notable player who has shown significant improvement as a quarterback.
Q: What sports events can be watched on Wednesday?
A: The article mentions several sports events airing on Wednesday, including the Sparks vs. Sky basketball game, the NHL Draft, and the match between St. Kitts and Nevis vs. USMNT in soccer.
More about Sports articles
- NHL Zone HQ AM Newsletter
- Connor Bedard’s credentials
- Comparison between Bedard and top draft picks
- Chicago Blackhawks trade with Bruins
- Notable pre-draft movements
- Oral history of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rise
- NFL’s top 25 players under 25
- Sparks vs. Sky basketball game
- NHL Draft details
- St. Kitts and Nevis vs. USMNT soccer match